Feeling Blue? You're in good company. With the day that has come to be known as Blue Monday upon us again, we at CAMH want to help you get through what has been dubbed the most depressing day of the year.
There is no scientific basis for why the third Monday in January has been deemed Blue Monday. It actually came about as a marketing gimmick by a travel company a decade ago. But the reason it has caught on in the public imagination, especially in Canada, is that it rings true. Daylight is at a premium, nights are long and cold, holiday bills are arriving, and most of us are the furthest away we can be from the next thing to look forward to. Those warm and fuzzy memories of the holidays – gone. The New Year's resolutions made with such earnest determination – broken.
Gimmick or not, all the talk about getting a bad case of the blues can have a real impact on mental health this time of year.
"This may seem like fun pseudoscience, but it can have a powerful influence on the psyche," says CAMH Psychologist Dr. Donna Ferguson. "It can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. If people feel they have already failed to live up to their resolutions, this self-imposed anxiety, coupled with the belief in Blue Monday, could be the perfect storm for triggering those predisposed to depression."
One of the best ways to cope with the January blues is to take an inventory of your lifestyle habits to see what simple but effective changes you can make to improve your mental health says CAMH Psychologist Dr. Katy Kamkar.
"Daily meaningful activities like getting proper sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, being physically active, setting up a budget to manage your spending habits, these are all practical, achievable goals that can make you feel more balanced," Dr. Kamkar says.
With barely nine hours of daylight this time of year, this can be a tough time for people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), says Dr. Robert Levitan, Senior Scientist at CAMH's Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute. Dr. Levitan, who has studied the impact on daylight hours and mental health throughout the year, says that paradoxically suicide rates are highest in the spring, when the days start getting longer. But he says this time of year brings its own unique challenges and concerns for people prone to SAD, depression or other mental health issues.
"It's usually characterized by a lack of energy, fatigue, lack of concentration, weight gain," says Dr. Levitan. "It's important to know that if you are feeling these symptoms, they can be treated in a variety of ways, including light therapy."
For further information
To request an interview with one of our experts to help your readers, listeners or viewers get through this year's Blue Monday, please contact: Hayley Chazan, CAMH Media Strategy Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org